With as many lead changes as there were in the second quarter, it would have been fun to see William Monroe’s Keegan Woolford and Madison County’s Bobby Ford popping off shots in the fourth quarter. But there was none of that as both sharp shooters were plagued with foul trouble in the second half. Instead what happened was an offensive struggle with Madison keeping pace with Monroe early in the third quarter but Monroe pulling away in the final 15 minutes of play thanks to it’s plethora of free throws in the fourth quarter to the tune of a 60-45 win.
“We hit our free throws and kind of exectuted pretty well in the second half,” Dragons coach Mike Maynard said. “The guys gave me everything they had and we got good minutes off the bench.”
It was nothing but back and forth early with Monroe leaning on Jeff Early to start as he scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half while Madison countered with Matt Temple underneath and the 3-point shooting from Ford and James Graves. The game was tied after one quarter at 10-10 and Early’s effort under the hoop gave the Dragons a 4-point lead going into the second half.
“We just tried to work inside-out like coach (Maynard) tells us to,” Early said. “We kind of had to play two bigs (with the foul trouble) and a freshman (in Anthony Terry) but they did their jobs.”
From that point forward, it was all about foul trouble as Ford struggled to get time with his four fouls and Woolford soon joined him. Freshman Dae Twyman helped pace the Mountaineers to make it 28-28 ealry in the third. An Austin Batten 3-pointer gave Monroe the edge though going into the fourth and his free throws and Darion McKinnie’s effort also at the line and a big 3-pointer proved to be too much.
“When you’ve got your best players on the court it’s exciting to watch but when you run into foul trouble like (we did with Ford) the game kind of turned into a football match,” said Madison coach Ben Breeden. “We’ve got to adjust to what’s going to be called… obviously that didn’t happen tonight for us with what happened.”
Early led all players with 15 points while Batten had 11 points. But it was Batten’s defensive effort ‑ a role that he’s taken over from Gary Morris who graduated last year – that might have been most felt on the night.
“I thought Austin Batten did a heck of a job when (Ford was in) because he’s hard to guard at 6-foot-3 and very good range,” Maynard said. “We had to keep the ball out of (Ford’s) hands. We knew Temple would get his points but he didn’t get a lot of them on offensive rebounds which was big.”
Terry had 11 points as well, including a trio of 3-pointers, aiding Monroe’s inside-outside game with nine first half points. McKinnie scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter. Off the bench, Mark Williams contributed eight points in the paint to give balance to Early.
For Madison, Graves led the way with 12 points and a trio of trey’s.
“It’s good to see him hit some shots because he has to be our third scorer to take some pressure off of Matt,” Breeden said. “We’ve got some guys on the perimeter than can shoot it. So that was good to see, him come alive.”
Temple, fiercely defended all game, finished with eight points. Ford, despite sitting out much of the second quarter, and the second half before eventually fouling out, finished with 10 points.
Madison (1-1, 0-1) hosts Orange County on Saturday at 7:45 p.m.
Monroe (2-2, 1-0) hosts Clarke County, also on Tuesday at 7:45 p.m.